If you find you’re easily triggered by watching other people do cringey stuff, we recommend you skip this video of Amy Klobuchar being asked who the president of Mexico is.
If, on the other hand, you're into that sort of thing, feast your eyes on this supremely awkward moment for the senior senator from Minnesota.
For the squeamish among you, here’s what goes down. During a recent Telemundo interview in Nevada, correspondent Guadalupe Venegas first asks Klobuchar what she knows about the Mexican president. She does not start strong.
“Okay, well, what I will tell you is that I will visit Mexico in the first one hundred years—one hundred days [in office.]”
Venegas presses further. You’re running for president, he says. Mexico is the United States’ neighbor to the south. This is an important detail not only to one of our closest international relationships, not only to our nation’s border states, but to Mexican-Americans all over the country. What do you know, he asks again, about the man currently running things?
Klobuchar tries again. She knows he was elected in the “last few years.” That’s true! (He’s been in office since 2018.) She knows she has “not met him personally,” but has met with the Mexican attorney general and worked with the embassy on the nascent United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement passed under the Trump administration.
After a bit more waffling, Venegas puts his foot down.
“I’m sorry to ask this, but do you know his name?”
Klobuchar fumbles for a moment.
“I know that he is the Mexican president,” she answers.
“But can you tell me his name?”
If it’s any consolation to Klobuchar (who didn’t respond to interview requests), reluctant billionaire Tom Steyer didn’t know, either—or, rather, he “forgets.” He said during his Telemundo spot that he’d been following the president’s political career and noted his progressive policies, but the name slipped his mind.
In his own Telemundo interview, Pete Buttigieg managed to come up with the name—which, for the record, is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
There are reasons to know the name beyond just his title. Since taking office, Lopez Obrador has retooled Mexico's budget and introduced a variety of programs to help economically vulnerable populations, including farmers, students, and older people. According to the Washington Post, that populism has made him massively popular, with approval ratings regularly topping 60 percent.
Speculators worry that if anything, Lopez Obrador might be a little bit too effective—too adroit at using his executive abilities to skirt past government hurdles and avoid institutional checks on his power.
Buttigieg, whom Klobuchar called “a political newcomer with no record” earlier this month, was quick to use the flub to his advantage. On Sunday, he told a crowd in Las Vegas that “there is more to being prepared than how many years you spent in Washington.”
Buttigeig finished second behind Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in last week's New Hampshire primary with 24 percent of the vote, while Klobuchar ran a surprisingly strong third with almost 20 percent.
Attention now shifts to the February 22 Democratic caucuses in Nevada. On Monday, Klobuchar's campaign hit the radio and TV airwaves with an ad specifically tailored to Spanish-speaking voters in that state.
Perhaps wisely, Klobuchar only speaks one line in the ad, the last one, and it's in English.